Golden State Warriors forward Draymond Green may not be the most skilled or athletic player on the court. He may not be fastest, and his stat lines may not be as filled as some of the others on the team.
But it would be harder to find someone with a bigger heart than the second year bench player out of Michigan State, and Green’s hustle and tenacity was a big reason why the Warriors hung on to defeat the Kings 115-113 on Sunday evening on the road.
Yes, Stephen Curry led the way with 36 points and knocked down several huge shots down the stretch. And yes, Klay Thompson knocked down a career-high eight three-pointers, finishing with 28 points.
But it was Green who led the Warriors with a plus-minus rating of plus-11, scoring nine points, grabbing five boards, and dishing out four assists. In 21 minutes, he didn’t turn the ball over once, took only four shots, and made three of them — two of them were three-pointers, one of which beat the first half buzzer and gave the Warriors a 56-52 lead a halftime.
The other shot he made? Perhaps the biggest basket of the game, a tip-in off a missed floater by Curry with 28 seconds to go that put the Warriors ahead by two. By no means was it fancy or even fluid — Green simply out-battled his defender and got a hand on the ball off the miss, and he was rewarded when it bounced high off the backboard and in.
The Warriors may depend on Curry and Thompson to put up big numbers to win games, but if they want to get back into the playoff picture and ultimately make a deep postseason run, a guy like Green can be just as important as a star player. Although only in his second season, Green has proven that he contributes to the team in so many different ways that doesn’t necessarily reflect on the scoresheet.
And occasionally, he even does things like score a late clutch basket. Even if it didn’t look very pretty at all.